Lena Chen with JADED Collective
Greater Pittsburgh, PA
About the Project
Launching Spring 2022, JADED is a public programming series celebrating the art and culture of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Organized by a collective of AAPI artists and organizers, also named JADED, the programming series builds interethnic coalitions to create more safe spaces of kinship and addresses racial trauma while celebrating cultural heritage. Programming and intimate events aim to reanimate local histories, preserve cherished family recipes and practices, and nurture intergenerational dialogue.
Early in 2021, artist and JADED co-founder Lena Chen received funding through OPA’s Artists Bridging Social Distance in the Public Realm (ABSD) initiative. Chen was driven by the rising racism, discrimination, xenophobia, and hate crimes again East Asians.
“Dubbed the China virus by President Trump, COVID-19 unleashed a wave of racism, discrimination, and hate crimes toward East Asians,” Chen wrote. “The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism reported that hate crimes against Asian Americans rose by 149% from 2019 to 2020. If xenophobia is the virus, then what is the cure?”
Chen embarked on an in-depth process of research, connection, and discovery, seeking to uplift the stories and histories of Chinese-American communities both past and present in the region.
On March 16, 2021, tragic shootings at three massage parlors in Atlanta Georgia resulted in the death of eight people, six of whom were of Asian descent. In response to these hate crimes, Chen came together with a group of AAPI women artists and the Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) PGH. Together, they created REST: A Day of Healing and Art for the Asian American community in Pittsburgh.
Hosted at the Carnegie Museum of Art and supported in part through the ABSD initiative, the event recognized the lack of opportunities to express grief even in a city with a significant Asian American population. REST hoped to fill that gap by creating a communal space of healing and rest for peers, elders, and neighbors.
Local artists and healers volunteered to teach workshops, offered bodywork sessions like reiki and yoga, and performed live music. Over the course of the event, more than 100 AAPI members came to support and care for each other.
The event raised over $8,000 through raffles and donations which supported Sex Workers Outreach Project’s pandemic mutual aid fund; Red Canary Song’s work with migrant AAPI sex workers in New York; distribution of self-defense kits for women and non-binary AAPI folks in Pittsburgh; and future AAPI programming.
The JADED collective of Asian American Pacific Islander artists and organizers formed as a result of the REST event and in response to rising anti-AAPI violence. The JADED programming series launches in Spring 2022 with two months of events celebrating AAPI art and culture.
The following events are free and open to the public:
April 16, 2022: Chinatown Walking Tour with Shirley Yee
12:00pm – 12:45pm. Meet in front of 519 Court Place, Pittsburgh, PA 15219.
April 16, 2022: Performance with Jason Chu, Alan Z, and MC Tingbudong
3:00pm – 4:00pm. In front of Chinatown Inn, 520 Third Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15219.
May 21, 2022: Chinese Cemetery & Squirrel Hill Photo Tour with Leo Hsu & Lena Chen
11:00am – 12:30pm. Meet at parklet on the corner of Murray Avenue and Darlington Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15217.
June 17, 2022: Picnic with Artist Ginger Brooks Takahashi
5:00pm – 7:00 pm. Flagstaff Hill, across from Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, 1 Schenley Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15213.
Registration is required for the following events. Visit the “Online Resources” section below to register.
May 15, 2022: Book Binding Workshop with Brent Nakamoto
10:00am – 12:00pm. Carnegie Museum of Art, 4400 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15213.
May 15, 2022: Kimjang Workshop with Sunni Park
1:00pm – 3:00pm. Carnegie Museum of Art, 4400 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15213.
June 17, 2022: Onigiri (Rice Ball) Workshop with Ginger Brooks Takahashi
2:00pm – 4:00 pm. Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, 1 Schenley Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15213.
Register for Events
Register for one of the workshops listed above.
Visit JADED on Instagram for the latest updates.
Contact JADED via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about Lena Chen and her other projects on her website.
Learn more about REST from local media coverage.
About the Artist
Lena Chen (born San Francisco, 1987) is a Chinese American artist working across performance and social practice. Raised by immigrant parents working in the hospitality and garment industries, she grew up in the San Gabriel Valley, an Asian enclave of Los Angeles. Named “Best Emerging Talent” at the B3 Biennial of the Moving Image (Frankfurt), she has performed and exhibited at Transmediale (Berlin), Museum of Modern Art (Antwerp), Färgfabriken (Stockholm), and Baltimore Museum of Art, among others. She has spoken at Oxford, Yale, Stanford, and SXSW and been an artist-in-residence with performance space (Folkestone, UK), INVERSE Performance Festival (Bentonville, Arkansas), and Construction Festival (Dnipro, Ukraine).
About the Collective
JADED is a collective of Asian American Pacific Islander artists and organizers who formed as a result of the REST event and in response to rising anti-AAPI violence. Founded by Anny Chen, Lena Chen, and Caroline Yoo, JADED has been featured in the Pittsburgh City Paper, 90.5 WESA, and The Pitt News. Our work has been supported by Carnegie Museum of Art, Office of Public Art, Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA) Pittsburgh, Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) Pittsburgh, and the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry.
JADED is funded by the Carnegie Museum of Art, Office of Public Art, Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA) Pittsburgh, and the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry
“Recognizing the history of AAPI people is the first step toward tackling present-day intolerance and hate. I continue to be inspired by the artists and leaders in Pittsburgh who are keeping our community's stories and cultural practices alive.”Lena Chen
(1) REST event, photo by Kaycee Orwig, courtesy artist; (2) REST event, photo by artist; (3-4) REST event, photos by Hannah E. Colen, courtesy artist; (5-7) REST event, photos by Audrey Medrano, courtesy artist; (8-9) JADED Chinatown Walking Tour, photos by Julie Lee, courtesy artist.
Artist Lena Chen, photo courtesy artist